By Gary Hatigeva
MEMBER of Parliament for Aoke/Langalanga and Chairman of the Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC), Matthew Wale has urged for the government to see that those charged with the responsibility to be whistleblowers, are properly equipped with laws and regulations that are relevant to the purpose of reporting acts or related matters to corruption.
This the Aoke/Langalanga MP highlighted when contributing to the debate session of the Whistleblowers Protection Bill 2016, currently being before parliament for deliberation.
With the call for equipping of whistleblowers, Wale said this should include thorough trainings and awareness in the context of Solomon Islands constitution, to relevant acts, to regulations and ordinances, and organisations’ structural policies.
He said the call is a matter that the government must take into serious consideration as it is evidently clear that a lot in government ministries do not have a clue of most or all the laws and regulations governing the system.
He said over the years, during inquiries into various standing committees of parliament, he has been very impressed with what he described as, “the lack of in-depth in the knowledge of many senior public officers about their responsibilities under the constitution and the various laws charged to their departments”.
“In each ministry sir, it is very important for all officers to have an in-depth knowledge of all the laws and regulations they are tasked with implementing.
“When an officer is transferred to another ministry, Mr Speaker, it is important that that particular officer undergo training to quip him or her with in-depth knowledge of the laws that the new ministry he or she moves go and is also charged with implementing,” the Aoke/Lanagalanga MP pointed out.
He added that a Whistleblower is supposedly a person within an organisation or agency with knowledge of illegal, unethical or corrupt conduct in that agency and is willing to expose that conduct, and such a person has a higher loyalty to the constitution, the laws, the values to public trust and principals that government is founded on.
“It is important that there’s training so that public officers better understand the constitution, the laws, the mechanism and process and the boundaries that must b respected in their particular government agency.
“So it is also important that all public officials are trained to understand, respect and protect the public trust placed in government.
“The whistle blowers higher loyalty, Mr Speaker is to the public’s trust in government,” the BLC Chair reiterated.
Wale further added this higher loyalty demands that when those possessing and exercising government, and public office and statutory powers, when they abuse, misuse or otherwise misdirect such powers, that such conduct is reported to law enforcement for investigation and prosecution.
He further pointed out and stressed that by equipping the mandatory or authorised whistleblowers with thorough training, or training, it should be able to give them thorough knowledge of applicable laws.
He then highlighted that in this way, public officers will be more likely to see clearly when breaches occur, and then are able to report them, and that he said, makes good governance and effective laws, especially with the Anti-Corruption Act, which aims to help the country fight corruption head on.
The Whistleblowers Protection Bill 2016 was laid on the floor for debates yesterday and resorted into the Committee of the Whole House, but committee proceedings were suspended and Parliament was adjourned.
Parliament according to its provisional order paper, will resume this morning with a Question and Answer Session before going straight into a highly anticipated, whole day of committee proceedings of the Bill.
The house is also expected to receive the second reading of the Strata Titles Bill, which the government is hoping to have it debated, laid before the Committee of the Whole House, and put for its third reading by Thursday.